I think you’re up in around Torrance today, but you’re based in Orange County, which is just up the road Peter and Kevin. I’m doing great John great.
To see ya and Kevin is a speaker, author, Sales Leader, with a proven track record of aggressive revenue growth, and what we want to talk about today is solution, selling wheel tip of the spear stuff, so um Kevin. Why do you think it’s still so important to focus in on? You know tip of the spear or top of the funnel solution selling well, at the end of the day, organizations aren’t buying a technology or a product they’re solving a problem or in a lot of cases, they’re trying to get to a new state versus a current State right and so, and so a lot of a lot of organizations are heading into you know say the latter part.
A lot of them are on calendar year, fiscal years, so having it heading into the latter part, and – and you know, a lot of companies out – there may be panicking a little bit about the numbers are not shaping up the way they they would like them to. What are some of the things that you think companies can and sales teams and sales managers can start to focus on now to really maximize the last part of the year.
It’s a great question. At the end of the day, sales success to me is about process and execution. You know, sales professionals tend to be highly intuitive and that’s not a bad thing, but it is a risk factor because it comes back to process and execution when you get to where you’re. Having struggling with your close rates, it’s typically a problem with qualifying or who you’re aiming for so anytime.
I work for an organization and try to improve their sales success. It’s a holistic approach because it starts to me again just like negotiation starts before the introduction sales success starts before you define your target market and prospecting, so you know, prospecting qualifying and closing those fundamentals, but at the end you need to be hitting on all cylinders Across the entire lifecycle of the sales cycle, but let’s face it a lot of organizations and sales manner and then spa be sales managers in particular get dragged into this.
It’s like okay, you know we’re running towards the end of the year. I’m going to dive into Kevin’s pipeline, but I’m going to dive into his late stage opportunities and I’m going to help him bring them home. I’m going to come in as a super closer and that’s where I’m going to focus how difficult it is it to get people to go back up the pipeline and realize that where they can make a difference and add value was actually in the early stages and Not coming in as the super closer you know, it’s there’s no substitute for experience right.
There’s. I think what separates the superstars are. The ones who’ve been hit by so many buses they’ve refused to get hit by that particular bus again, so they they protect and prevent. At the end of the day, you can still close on stuff. That’s dodgy, I believe, strongly in tools and techniques like a sequence of events and collaborating with the key decision-makers in that kind of communication back and forth, getting a good cadence back and forth so that there’s commitment on both sides throughout the stages and if you have To bring that in at the late stage, you still can, because that’s part of you know not just taking a sound bite off a call but documenting it with a follow-up email and getting their cut back and forth in that process, so that they are invested in The journey yeah and a lot of times, obviously you can you, can track what happens to you later in the process to what didn’t happen early in the process right so, as you say like getting that, cadence together and one of the things as we know, one Of the traps that people fall into is relying on only one or two contact points at a customer point married to that one contact right, it’s it’s a death trap, and yet we all do it.
It’s just. I think it’s human nature to try to have one partner that one coach, but it’s a flawed approach, especially an enterprise selling. I mean the days of one person. Have a signature authority on a large Spanish is long gone. Its consensus buying and you’ve really got to not just engage across the organization of the stakeholders that are effective, but you really need to protect against blind spot.
It’s because again experience helps and you can get taken out by somebody that’s way out and left field because, yes, the old saying goes, they all don’t have to say yes, but just about any one of them can say no yeah exactly, and I think Gardner has Some good statistics around the the average amount of people involved in a buying decision. As you go up, the you know the size of deal, and I think that’s something people should who are reading should just look at those statistics, because it might surprise you you might say well, I have deals of that size and I only know two people involved In the buying decision and they’re on average is eight.
So what are those who were those other six people right? It’s really trying to end, and I think it comes back to pain winner earlier I mentioned about trying to take them to a future state versus the current state. How you energize that and to me executive level. Engagement is done early early in the sales cycle and late late in the sales cycle. When it comes to approval and the rest of the times, you can kind of flood around with the heavy waited managers and directors, but the highlighting the pain and really you know.
Extracting that helping them understand the implication, you’ll spend the implication of the problem. It is really important because that’s how you’re ultimately going to get funding and and get deal approval. So when you work with them and talk with people nowadays in in some respects, the the landscape has shifted a bit and I think people have moved away from some of the fundamentals, because they’ve kind of got sucked into inbound.
Everything is coming in ready, qualified to you or theirs or their. I have this technology where, let’s face it, I could send their five thousand emails prospect emails today and I could sit back and say done my job. So how do ya? How do you help people can’t go back to the fundamentals and realize that it’s still the hard yards account? Well, it’s a tough thing and it’s it’s it’s context, specific so, depending on your selling model, in your specific business solution, where you affect an organization that types of companies you’re going after the fundamentals of conversational selling or psychology of selling and negotiation are always going to Be important in that one and relationship as selling is kind of come and gone with.
It will always always be relevant to have a relationship, but at the end of the day, in today’s world, you really jet to you’ve got to have a strong pipeline. If you’re going to have sales success because deals are going to fall through even the best of deal, sometimes drag-out, I mean technology sales, I’ve seen guys close deals at you know two or three sales people have worked on over a course of years, and you know I should them have fallen off and then finally, the timings right so there’s a lot that goes into doing big deals mm-hmm.
So what is the number one? What are a couple of the fundamental scales that you really reinforce with people that you think maybe there are being a little more overlooked than they should be well. The simplistic level selling is about prospecting qualifying and closing and at the end of the day, you’re trying to relieve pressure in the sales cycle. You’re not trying to be combative with your partner, it’s more of a dance than a knife fight, but I need to manage.
I think all great salespeople are control freaks to some degree, so you still need to manage any set expectations establish a level of communication of partnership in the process, because how many times have you heard a sales rep come back and all excited about a meeting a Week later, they call a prospect to find out where they’re at with it and the prospect, very barely recalls it and having the meeting trying to establish that and there’s a lesson from the like that bone donors.
They try to get you just one small thing get your client to do. One small thing get them to do you a favor one small thing, and that can be a progression that can build on that establishes a two-way, a back-and-forth yeah. No, I totally agree with you it’s that one where they come back, all excited and say fantastic meeting with the client, and you said: okay. Well, what’s the what’s that follow-up? Go I’m going to meet again in two weeks? Okay, what are they doing between now and to two weeks? And then what do you mean? That’s a well.
What action is the is the sell, is the customer or the prospect taking between now and the meeting? Well, none go great. You just got a continuation. You just go them. You just got another lunch date in two weeks you haven’t actually progressed the sale and that’s the old ABC always be closing. I think most people misinterpret what that managers all about. It’s not about lambasting your prospect with an end.
This block of closing questions. It’s about establishing momentum, momentum toward the close and, to your point, I believe, any objective at any point in a sales cycle is the next step. You’ve got to take that next step, so you know the the selling really doesn’t start until it’s time. Machines begin well a lot of times. The tough questions is closing on that step, whatever that isn’t yeah and and realizing the fact that you’re not you’re, operating on the prospects timeframe, so you’re the one who has to introduce some level of urgency into it because it may not be there, it may be There on their side, but it may not be too so.
Sales is a wonderful profession just about anybody, can get in and put the effort and they learn from their mistakes and grow and be successful. But at the end of the day you got to move the client and and that’s there you know you got to help. So you mentioned prospecting, and this is – and this is one thing that they’re you know that still seems to be a struggle and getting even probably more of a stroke because, as I said, people are getting spoiled by this notion of in the bounding fed hot leads And all of this kind of stuff and and backing off of good old-fashioned prospecting.
So what do you say to the people who maybe are neglecting the good old fashioned prospecting? Well, I say that prospecting is like fitness and if you’re prospecting for three hours, every third Thursday you’ll develop neither fitness nor effectiveness. If you decide take on a new fitness regimen and whether that’s walking two miles a day or something more intense, there’s lots of fear, uncertainty and doubt fun little confident we’re the right shoes.
All I forgot my music. Oh, I didn’t bring the right water. Oh, this treadmill sucks, you know at the end of the day, you’ve got to put those distractions aside and commit to the activity, because it’s about productivity results and feedback. If the productivities there, the results will be there. If the productivity is there and the results are not there, there will be mounds of feedback. The marketplace is self sharpening.
You just have to continue engaging, but to be an effective prospector. You need to not find a time but make the time on a regular basis. Yeah and you kind of got to embrace it right because it’s fundamental to what you’re doing and yes, we live in there. Unfortunately, we live in a culture today that celebrates short that doesn’t really and doesn’t really celebrate, paying your dues or putting in the hard yards.
So but you got to realize, as you said, if you want to be successful, you have to not just sort of go. Oh, I got to do my prospecting, but you got to say right got ta, do my prospecting and you have to recognize that the top of the sales funnel is a VIP very messy place. You take any singular activity. It’s tough to tie an ROI directly to that. It’s the old Wanamaker. You know half the money I spend on advertising.
I waste, I use, don’t know which half at the end of the day, you’ve got to commit, and I try to challenge people to have two or three very specific modes, because some people there’s so many social platforms. There’s so many engage, there’s so many ways to connect, have two or three primary and just commit to them, commit to them from an activity and a Productivity standpoint and the results or the feedback will come, and you also may be successful yeah and I think to Your point, though, I think it’s all and it’s always a combination.
It’s never one thing and I think that’s that’s the trap. A lot of people have fallen into, especially with all these tools that have come out where they think. Oh, if I just use this great like prospecting tool, I don’t have to do anything else and you go it’s never that simple. It’s always a combination of activity right and part of that human nature. I think if you look at the usage numbers on a tool, a phenomenal tool like LinkedIn Navigator companies, invest in at an enterprise level, yet very few.
Their sales reps take advantage of the monthly allotments of engagement, and you know at the end of the day, it’s about riding the bike not about when I say which bike yeah. So what are some of the other areas that you really focus in on helping people, and especially with one eye towards the latter half of the year? Well, so you want to close right. There’s lots of leads don’t age well, if you’re taking leads or you’re doing a lame job of engaging and not really just waiting for that thing to kind of self grow, that’s a challenge, but there’s opportunity to re-engage but you’ve got to be passionate.
You know, I believe, rule number one in sales is you got to drink the kool-aid if you’re not passionate and excited about what it is you’re doing how in the world you expected got in the other side of the table. The kid excited enough to make a decision and take action, but I think if you can re-energize, your focus maybe put some incentives out there, whether you’re self created. Sometimes we have to play mind games of herself just a drive through those hours of calls, but at the end of that you can reinvigorate a pipeline.
You just met approach it but very focused standpoint about what you’re seeking and again that’s the next step in the sales process. If you can’t get him to cross that bridge you’re not going to be able to get him to make the long journey ya know it’s. It’s a good point and I think that idea of keeping yourself energized and engaged – I had a great conversation, a number of months back with Santa misguides Kenton Lee, but he said that when he was prospecting right, he said you know.
If I make X amount of calls today and I make three appointments and I’m going to reward myself – we were reading a movie tonight. He goes. If I make you know all of my prospecting calls and I don’t make any appointments, but I’ve really worked hard. I tried I give myself a small reward because I put the effort in and that way it’s not an all-or-nothing. As long as I can look at myself and say I did everything I could tomorrow’s another day, I’m going to repeat it again right and getting some noise here, but oh yeah.
I know it’s you’re good. Hopefully it’s not troubling. At the end of the day, you’ve got ta hit the numbers, and you know you need to embrace it. One guy came out two years ago called the note quote: a look. If every yes is worth a thousand dollars – and it takes you four noes to get to that – yes, then each knows worth a couple hundred dollars. Yeah recognize that thank you for that. No I’ll call on you another time – maybe maybe not, but on the next celebrate that no because you’re never going to get your one.
Yes, unless you average, those four knows you’ve got to embrace the rejection, try to learn from it, but the end of the day. Don’t take it personal, it is always going to be a numbers game to some degree. You’ve got to engage at a competitive level. Yeah and I think that’s the point. I think it is always a numbers game to some degree. As you say, and despite everything, I don’t think that really changes and – and the point is it’s – it’s almost getting harder because we live in such a distracted society where people are so distracted all the time that, even if you do engage with somebody, they may have Every intention yeah, they may have every intention in the world of engaging back with you, but they get distracted, so you’ve got to keep going right and that’s persistence and it’s also being aware right because so many times we’re so busy talking in so many.
You know. Thinking about our own energy, but we’re not attuned to what the customers doing and that could be in a 1:1 conversation throughout the you know, solution selling in the whole gamut of factors, but you need to be cognizant that you’re, not necessarily at the top of the Prospects list, as far as their priorities, you’ve got to find a way to get in front of mine and yeah, and that’s tough.
As you know, I mean it’s really tough, because you want to close your deal and and it’s tough to realize that yeah the prospect. Maybe they really want to need what you have, but you don’t know about the 50 other things that’s competing for your attention. Right now, right, well sig, the late great Zig Ziglar said for every prospect you lose because you’re too enthusiastic. You lose 100 because you weren’t enthusiastic enough – and I know it’s not just about enthusiasm of people – feel when you’re genuine when you’re sincere interested in their problem.
Their solution you can persist and you feel like you’re, knowing them and you’re, leading on voicemails or you’re calling and calling and calling you know you could annoy them at some point. But at some point those emotions start to change. I mean I’ve had prospects where I’ve called and called and called and they’ve told me to stop, stop stop and at some point the time turns and they start to show a respect and they appreciate your persistence and then they give you a true attention.
You know, there’s no there’s no set answer it takes. It takes a grind, something yeah. It does absolutely okay, but we’re bumping up against the end of our time Kevin. But before we go once you get a chance to tell people a bit more about yourself what you do and how they can learn more about you, hey, that’s great John. I really appreciate, but before I do, I just want to congratulate you guys, because I know you’re evolved a pipeline or to a connected yeah Gartner Magic Quadrant.
We were, we were so excited about that it was our first year we applied, we got on it. The first year we got on it in a very prominent position, so we’re pretty thrilled about that yeah. It is a major it’s not just that the analyst kind of perspective, but you know a lot of people, don’t realize that’s measured on the completeness of vision and the ability to execute you guys are very highly rated on your ability to execute and to me that’s That’s what it’s all about in the vision you can pack in as as times go forward, but you’ve got to execute.
You guys are doing that. So it’s great to be associated with you guys. So I have Kevin Graham, have a and Kevin Graham speaks it’s my speaking brand I’ve been a sales training brand. I’ve even got a article brand that we do article for business growth. But if you go to Kevin Graham speaks comm, you can get a free copy of my latest ebook, the the sales success, the power of customer intimacy, which talks about how to really truly understand your customer.
Because that’s you know, as I say, if you, if you bear hug the customer, that not only tell you what the winning hand needs to be they’ll tell you when to play which cards yeah. That’s fantastic, listen, Kevin! This has been great. I hope you have a great rest of the day. Thank you. Everyone for tuning in my name is John Gould and sales pop online says magazine. Pipeliner CRM see all further expert interview really soon.
Thank you. Thank you. John great day.
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